The goal of the American educational system should be to teach an individual to become an independent thinker who can form his or her own view. This goal is very hard to obtain, because textbooks often provide a skewed view, but if educators make creative use of literature, students can learn to become independent thinkers. Students need to acquire this deeper understanding in order to learn critical literacy or the ability to “question, examine or […] dispute” texts (McLaughin 14). One important tool educators can use to help develop this critical capacity is literature, in particular literature about slavery. Grade five students can be introduced to excerpts from a variety of eighteenth and nineteenth century texts, and secondary literature about those texts. This essay explores ways to use selections from The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, The Life and Times of Cotton Mather, and the poems “On Being Brought from Africa to America,” and “To Sir Toby.” Thoughtful use of this literature introduces young students to complex and rich ideas concerning slavery.
Early American Literature in the Elementary School Classroom.
Undergraduate Review, 6, 176-180.
Available at: https://vc.bridgew.edu/undergrad_rev/vol6/iss1/32
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